LUNA NOVA HOME> Extended Techniques for Piano> Glissando Ex. 1

George Crumb, Voice of the Whale, Vocalise (. . .for the beginning of time)
Page 7, end of first line, beginning of second line.
Example of muted pitches and of glissando over bass strings produced by the fingertip.

For the first page of Voice of the Whale, the pianist is asked to keep the damper pedal depressed during the extended flute solo in order to maximize resonance and sympathetic vibrations of overtones. On the second page of this Vocalise, the piano makes its first entrance with a continuation of the opening of the Richard Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra theme. Low, muted bass notes are played after the two big chords. This time, there are no harmonics produced, but we instead hear the actual pitches stopped in the manner of a string pizzicato.

The right hand plays the A-flat and F-natural on the keyboard, while pressure is applied on the two corresponding strings with the left hand. It is most effective to place one finger on the ends of each string closest to the tuning pins. This approach allows for maximum resonance and control of dynamics.

A rapid glissando to be played on the strings immediately follows. These glissandos are found frequently in this piece. This one is to be played simultaneously with the flute’s first note. Crumb gives specific instructions regarding how to play the glissandos. This glissando is to be played with the finger tip, which produces a more rounded-out “whoosh” sound suggestive of a large wave. I have found that it is best to use only one finger and to keep the finger flat. If the finger is curved in any way, then the strings would be more likely to touch each other while vibrating, which would create too much clang.
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